An Apple Car may sport a digital license plate; here’s why

Add another hire to the list of folks Apple has scooped up, reportedly to build an Apple Car. According to Electrek, hired a veteran software engineer with an expertise in fleet management software and especially digital license plates. If so, and an Apple-built car is a success, it could help states make and save money.

Before going to work at Apple as a “Secret Agent” on “special projects” according to his LinkedIn profile, Rónán Braonáin was director of engineering at Reviver, a stealth startup working on what he called “the world’s first digital license plate.” Prior to his stint at Reviver, Braonáin spent five years as a software engineer at BMW before becoming chief technology officer at Vision Fleet, a company offering electric vehicle fleet management software and financing to businesses.

The idea behind digital license plates is to replace metal license plates with digital screens that are connected wirelessly to mobile phone networks (see the iPhone connection?). Instead of merely showing a jumble of letters and numbers, the futuristic plates could be used to alert law enforcement by flashing messages like “Stolen,” “Amber Alert,” and “Expired registration.”

Compliance’s sales pitch is that states could save money by adopting the technology. For example, according to FORTUNE, California, for example, spends $20 million each year to mail new registration tags. With electronic plates, such tags are unnecessary. DMV workers would be able to update plates remotely by merely pressing a few buttons.

Digital plates could also help states collect more revenue. Some drivers skip the payment of car registration fees and gamble that they won’t get caught. With electronic plates, “scofflaws would be under a lot more pressure to write a check,” notes FORTUNE.

As for the Apple Car, the Wall Street Journal says Apple’s car project is code-named “Titan.” The article says Steve Zadesky, Apple’s vice president of iPhone/iPod Design has been put in charge of the project, and that he’s assembling a 1,000 member team.